Odense Zoo 1999. Human relatives move in.

Gaia design never before designed a family house, so complicated, so solid and so expensive. Chimpanzees are difficult clients. As a family they stick together, but they also chase each other and fight. They are extremely strong and use their strength to demolish everything. They are also very sensitive and can act very aggressive, but also depressed. They have a strong will and can decide of some unknown reason not to leave the house for a very long time. But first of all they are so inventive and they can find solution hard to imagine.

Because there behave looks like humans, visitors expect their surroundings to be just that positive, but also to be natural. It has to be a house that people can imagine is nice for a chimpanzee family.

On good possibility is to drag in outside nature. Do make an inside stream, make some trees. In this case we made a lot of big windows so visitors can see the green outside through the glass and so can the Chimpanzees.

The list of special solutions is so long. Nevertheless it still may be the best House for Chimpanzees in Europe. There will be some bigger zoos having bigger enclosures, but in some of theme you never see the chimpanzees. If visitors cannot see them, there will be no reason to keep them in captivity. It is a complicated balance, but works out nicely in Odense Zoo.

In the indoor visitor area, there are some small exhibits with snakes and mongooses in case visitors go in and the chimpanzees leave the house, there have to be something.

The Chimpanzee exhibit including the outdoor island was the last element needed for having an integrated and positive visitor experience of the new area and it was time to go back and “update” the old zoo.